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Filing for divorce first: is there a strategic advantage?

You can sense when you're in emotional limbo. An old way of life has died and a new one has yet to be fully born. Things can't stay the way they are, or at least so it seems. And soon you may be entering not only the emotional limbo of a failing marriage, but the legal limbo of the divorce process.

So should you file for divorce first, before your spouse does? Or should you ride it out, trying to get your arms around all the contingencies you now face?

These are wrenching questions for spouses not only in Lake County, but throughout Illinois and across the country.

There is certainly no definitive answer. Individual circumstances are very important. But let's start with just one example of how the timing of a divorce petition may make a big difference.

Sometimes, when one or both marriage partners are dealing with financial problems, a bankruptcy filing may among the options. Normally, of course, there is pretty much equal division of marital property and marital debt in a divorce. But when one spouse files for bankruptcy before the divorce petition is filed, that can definitely be a complicating factor in the divorce proceeding.

Similarly, it can sometimes be a concern that a soon-to-be-ex-spouse will hide assets. If that is the case, it may make sense to file for divorce before your spouse can do so. This could enable you to alert the court to the possibility that your spouse will try to hide assets - and possibly obtain an injunction or temporary restraining order against it.

Source: "What Are The Financial And Legal Advantages Of Being First To File For Divorce?" Forbes, Jeff Landers, 3-26-13

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post in Lake County, Illinois. To learn more about our practice, please visit our page on property division.

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